Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free
    • #1
    • Thread Starter
    #1

    I'm a first year, but we go on wards to do patient case studies. Yesterday I made notes, anonymised name/DoB wise but with some otherwise quite specific background information about the patient. If found on that ward it would probably reveal the identity of the patient to staff.

    I've tried calling in today with no success, so plan on trying in person tomorrow. I've also told my medical school by email that I lost the notes, figuring it's probably best to admit now than to get them handed in later on.

    Do I much reason to fear? I can't even be sure I left them on the same ward as I went elsewhere later that day. I feel pretty awful about being so stupid with regards to confidentiality. My only consolation is that there is no name/DoB on the notes.

    Any other advice?
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    These things happen and you've done well to damage control. The fact that it's anonymised is good and them being lost on-site rather than the sainsburys carpark should be reassuring.

    Take it as a learning opportunity. If you think this may happen again, invest in one of those box clipboards - this is much more difficult to lose. Also take measures such as ensuring you empty your pockets before you leave at the end of the day.

    Try not to worry - you're only human.
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    I have edited this reply after seeing that the GMC have pitched up on TSR.

    If the notes were anonymised and lost in a safe place (e.g. on the ward or in a doctors' office) then there isn't likely to be any fallout. They have probably been tucked into a pile of (much more sensitive!) documents that are either somewhere in the hospital or already in a confidential waste bin. The nurses are usually very good at uncluttering work spaces and, if I had to wager; I would guess that an overzealous Staff Nurse swiped it from you during a momentary lapse of concentration.

    I would do what you can to find the document (to put your own mind at rest if nothing else) but, unless you think the patient is at risk (e.g. they are readily identifiable and you listed their HIV diagnosis...), I would not keep escalating the issue. There's nothing the medical school can do about it apart from feel that they ought to do something... and it's not necessarily in your interest for them to do anything !!
    Offline

    11
    ReputationRep:
    Sometimes I wonder why people get so uptight about confidentiality, when any confident well-dressed person could easily walk onto a ward and start reading any patient's notes they fancied.
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Ghotay)
    Sometimes I wonder why people get so uptight about confidentiality, when any confident well-dressed person could easily walk onto a ward and start reading any patient's notes they fancied.
    I doubt that. Unfamiliar people on the wards are quite noticeable when you're working with the same people day after day. Nurses aren't afraid to ask people for identification in this situation.
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Etomidate)
    I doubt that. Unfamiliar people on the wards are quite noticeable when you're working with the same people day after day. Nurses aren't afraid to ask people for identification in this situation.
    I see lots of specialty referrals on wards where I'm unlikely to be known by the nursing staff. I probably look like a visiting SpR but don't routinely wear an ID badge. In cases where I haven't introduced myself, I'd estimate that I am "challenged" around 50% of the time, although that's usually because someone is offering to help or wants to know which specialty has come to review their patient. I have never once been asked to "prove" who I am, e.g. showing an ID badge.

    I think that bigger security issues are computer systems left logged in (e.g. every computer in the Emergency Department) and piles of lists left in unlocked doctors' offices.

    The bottom line is that a determined troublemaker (or journalist) could steal confidential information very easily from any NHS hospital. I do however think that is the price of being able to deliver effective healthcare - the system is inevitably too complex to guarantee 100% security.
    • #1
    • Thread Starter
    #1

    (Original post by Etomidate)
    These things happen and you've done well to damage control. The fact that it's anonymised is good and them being lost on-site rather than the sainsburys carpark should be reassuring.

    Take it as a learning opportunity. If you think this may happen again, invest in one of those box clipboards - this is much more difficult to lose. Also take measures such as ensuring you empty your pockets before you leave at the end of the day.

    Try not to worry - you're only human.
    (Original post by MonteCristo)
    I have edited this reply after seeing that the GMC have pitched up on TSR.

    If the notes were anonymised and lost in a safe place (e.g. on the ward or in a doctors' office) then there isn't likely to be any fallout. They have probably been tucked into a pile of (much more sensitive!) documents that are either somewhere in the hospital or already in a confidential waste bin. The nurses are usually very good at uncluttering work spaces and, if I had to wager; I would guess that an overzealous Staff Nurse swiped it from you during a momentary lapse of concentration.

    I would do what you can to find the document (to put your own mind at rest if nothing else) but, unless you think the patient is at risk (e.g. they are readily identifiable and you listed their HIV diagnosis...), I would not keep escalating the issue. There's nothing the medical school can do about it apart from feel that they ought to do something... and it's not necessarily in your interest for them to do anything !!
    Thanks for the advice, both of you. I went back today but alas no luck anywhere that I'd been that day. As you say, probably binned or caught up somewhere else within the ward. My clinical supervisor was pretty relaxed about the situation -- similarly saying it was a low risk situation, keep looking but essentially don't worry about it, and thanks for the candour.
    Offline

    20
    ReputationRep:
    Happens all the time don't worry about it.

    I do think confidentiality is complete illusion. The most we offer to patients in bays are some disposable curtains. My hospital uses some software from the 90s that my laptop physically will not allow me to install because of the security risk it poses. Notes are left on the side and computers logged in all the time. The great lengths we are made to go through to keep confidentiality are completely pointless - anyone determined could get what they want.
    Offline

    11
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Etomidate)
    I doubt that. Unfamiliar people on the wards are quite noticeable when you're working with the same people day after day. Nurses aren't afraid to ask people for identification in this situation.
    As long as you're under about 35, the line "I'm a medical student" works wonders. No one knows who we are, no one keeps track of us, and I can't recall ever being challenged by nursing staff even when I forget to wear my badge. They just ask me if they can help with what I'm looking for, usually
    • PS Reviewer
    Offline

    18
    ReputationRep:
    PS Reviewer
    I think I've developed a super suspicious face lately because wherever I go I seem to be challenged as to who I am! And by challenged, I mean nurses going "Who are you???", pulling an expression like I've just arrived to abduct cute puppies slash steal money from defenceless old ladies and swerving their heads to give really pointed looks at my badge.

    It's actually weirdly rude. Like, there's a nice way to ask if you know me and then there's acting like I'm some kind of criminal, because actually I'm here to do that cannula you bleeped about...

    Genuinely worried I have invisible balaclava syndrome.
 
 
 
  • See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  • Poll
    Brussels sprouts
  • See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  • The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

    Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

    Quick reply
    Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.